21c Hotel Plans 'Excellent Neighborhood Restaurant' for Downtown St. Louis

Chef Matt Daughaday dishes on the food-loving hotel chain's St. Louis plans

click to enlarge Chef Matthew Daughaday has big plans for the forthcoming 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis - Lucas Peterson
Lucas Peterson
Chef Matthew Daughaday has big plans for the forthcoming 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis

The recent announcement of several key personnel appointments by the group behind the forthcoming 21c Hotel St. Louis has created even more buzz around the highly-anticipated development. On the culinary front, the most exciting news was the appointment of Matthew Daughaday as executive chef.

Daughaday will lead culinary operations that include a restaurant, lounge, coffee shop and events spaces as the hotel group seeks to open inside the restored YMCA building at 1528 Locust Street. He brings to the project a wealth of experience that includes such acclaimed restaurants as Taste by Niche and Reeds American Table — and ensures that the property will be an anchor of the downtown dining scene.

One of the area's biggest culinary talents, Daughaday shared with the Riverfront Times his vision for 21C Hotel St. Louis, which takes its cue from the ultra-chic 21c Museum Hotel group's other properties in such cities as Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and Durham, North Carolina. Though he remains tight-lipped about menu or restaurant concept specifics, he notes that he is working to make sure that all the property's food and beverage spaces will have a connection to the region. He says he's confident the property's culinary offerings will appeal not simply to hotel guests but to residents as well.

"There will be a few outlets for food, with the restaurant, café and banquet halls all being built around the philosophy of thoughtfulness in preparation and execution," Daughaday says.  "We're trying to open an excellent neighborhood restaurant that happens to be in a hotel. For each of these places, there is a lot of thought put into the items on the menu; we are sourcing our ingredients and making sure they represent St. Louis as much as they fill out the concept of the space, and utilizing local farmers, local roasters for coffee in the café and purveyors that all have a tie to the community.

"We want to showcase to out-of-town guests all the awesome products St. Louis has to offer and give another great place for local residents to come and dine."

Daughaday says his desire to work for 21c Museum Hotels has been brewing for several years — even before he even knew who they were. While working for chef Gerard Craft at Niche Food Group, Daughaday became familiar with Proof on Main, an acclaimed restaurant that is part of the hospitality group's first development in Louisville. Daughaday did not know about the restaurant's relationship with the hotel when he first learned of it; he simply thought of it as an exceptional restaurant. He  only came to understand its relationship with 21c Museum Hotels after he learned that the group was coming to St. Louis.

"That is when I came across Savoy Restaurant in Kansas City and the Hive in Bentonville and realized all these places I knew as just great restaurants were associated with the 21C brand and how important having high-quality dining establishments is to the company," Daughaday says. "It made this opportunity exciting and made me nervous all in the same right, as I know that the expectations will be high for this project."

Daughaday says that he is also thrilled to be a part of the organization because of its commitment to civic engagement. Working alongside Christopher Randall, 21c Hotel St. Louis' newly appointed director of community impact, Daughaday hopes to be a piece of the puzzle in downtown's revitalization, seeing his role as chef as but a part of a larger picture for the overall area.

"The food will be playful, modern and rooted in tradition and tied to the overall spirit of the hotel with a commitment to quality that pulls from its connection to the local community and supports the neighborhood around it," Daughaday says. "21C wants to make an impact in any community that it is a part of and give an outlet for creative expression. We hope to attain those same goals with the food we produce."

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About The Author

Cheryl Baehr

Cheryl Baehr is the dining editor and restaurant critic for the Riverfront Times and an international woman of mystery. Follow her on the socials at @cherylabaehr
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